(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 8/1.)
Eugene O'Neill had much trouble with the ending of his play Anna Christie (1921). The producer of an early version, titled Chris Christophersen (1920), which folded in pre-Broadway tryout, ragged at him for making the final scene too grim. When O'Neill reworked the piece, shifting its central focus from the old barge captain to the daughter he had sent away in childhood, the critics ragged at him because the ending was now too facilely happy. The show became a hit, winning O'Neill his second consecutive Pulitzer Prize, but the criticisms still rankled. He grew so irritable on the subject that he contemplated omitting the play from his collected works.